We took the train from Delhi to Agra @ 3 hrs ride. We’d heard about the trains running late, but ours was right on schedule! The car was clean and comfortable – AC 2nd class – and it was a very pleasant trip.
We made arrangements through our B&B to have a driver meet us at the station and Sameer turned out to be our tour guide for the day + our ride to the airport the following day. After dropping our bags, we headed out to see Agra Fort, the Baby Taj, and a view of the Taj Mahal from across the river.
Then, as guides will do, he wanted to take us to see where carpets and handicrafts were made/sold. I hate a hard sell and have no guilt about saying no thank you and walking out, as I’d done after being similarly railroaded in Delhi. However, we were both sufficiently impressed by the carpet making demo to go ahead and listen to the pitch. The salesman was savvy enough to be both sincere about the quality and the local craftsmen and a bit tongue in cheek – ending in a sale that felt like a win-win. We did negotiate the price a bit and managed to just buy the one carpet – no small feat!- which really is beautiful. Silk backed, hand double knotted wool. The details and crispness of the design are remarkable. Plus it feels good!
After that I was done for the day and put and end to any more “shopportunities”. The driver reluctantly returned us to the hotel, promising more wonderous sites the following day.
We’re going to see the Taj at sunrise – minus the guide… 😉